Hot Dogs with a Side of Dumpster Divers

What do you do if you’re browsing the Internet and read that July is National Hot Dog Month?

If you’re Philadelphia Dumpster Diver Joel Spivak, and you have a big heart and unlimited imagination (check out these photos of his home and handiwork), you stage pop-up exhibits and hand out free hot dogs – lots of them – everywhere from North Philly to South Street.

15_6_27 3 Joel_CM1978(Joel Spivak in his 2013 Philly Hot Dog Month t-shirt)

This year’s improbable celebration kicked-off Friday on Philadelphia’s Fabric Row, in front of Maxie’s Daughter Fabrics, where Joel and friends handed out 200 free hot dogs to confused-but-happy pedestrians….

15_6_27 1 All_DC6380


Over the past three years, Joel has organized hot dog events and giveaways for vets at the Veterans Multi-Service Center on 4th Street;  for summer campers at the HERO Community Center at 17th and Tioga;  and for the children’s Bible Camp at Phillips Temple Christian Methodist Church at 3rd and Fitzwater.

15_6_27 2 Divers_DC6403(Dumpster Divers Joel Spivak, Joanne Hoffman, Neil Benson & Diane Keller
in their 2013 and 2014 Hot Dog Month tees)

He’s also staged pop-up exhibits and giveaways from South Street to Lancaster Avenue, with the help of sponsors and fellow Divers like Joanne Hoffman (who designs the annual t-shirt) and Dan Enright (who maintains the  National Hot Dog Month in Philly website).

15_6_27 4 Diane_DC6341_(Diane is holding out for a 2015 t-shirt, coming soon….)


Joel also organizes the not-to-be-missed South Street Hot Dog Crawl, where adventurous eaters with strong stomachs share frankfurters slathered with everything from crab salad to jalapenos.

15_6_27 4 Maxie's_DC6300(Neil Benson with Eric & Liza Trobman of Maxie’s Daughter Fabrics)


Starting July 1, you can find this year’s Philadelphia events listed here, or – better yet – you can sign up at Joel’s website to be alerted to all his adventures.

15_6_27 6 Neil_CM1964(Would you buy a free hot dog from this man…?)

So, in the end, why does Joel do it?

“It’s all about creativity and generosity,” he says.  And, yes, I’ll take some free relish with that.